Tobi-This piece is great! I love these pieces in particular:

"They have shareholders to pay, trust funds to pad, foundations to fund, earnings forecasts to beat, and new countries to expand to. The nature of unchecked capitalism demands that these companies get bigger and bigger, further entrenching their influence and power over us. This necessary expansion widens the area under the graph of societal harms."

"Beyond illegal monopolies, there is a whole class of social costs that we don’t talk about enough in tech. We don’t yet have a good way of quantifying and conceptualizing these harms, partly because technophiles continue to proclaim that their tools are all neutral (they are not)."

I am not 100% sure I agree with your posit: "The pursuit of scale itself is not evil." The more I dig into capitalism and White Supremacy the more convinced I am that "scale" is a euphemism for monster. Scale implies: Bigger is better. Faster is better. Replication is better. It takes all the humanity out of things: less time for 1:1 human interaction, real conversations, organic small, steady growth, and the main goal for scale is to make more, be bigger, be better. It is the outcome of a marketplace based on competition, not cooperation. And yet, social enterprise is no better...they talk about scale all the time. Will your idea replicate? How many people do you impact? What are you measuring for impact? The thing is if your impact is health, well-being, a safer internet, better sustainability, and decisions for "planet and people" over profit, scale is secondary to making the right choices. Is it more important the number of people you touch with a product or service, or the quality of life you create and shifts you make for the people you can touch in the time you have?

The Care economy is a good example of this. It is not easily scalable, not high paid, or paid at all, which is how we are rewarded and how we sustain ourselves. Yet, it is arguably the most important job there is. The Invisible and Emotional labor of care work doesn't scale. Therefore under current standards for investors and governments, it is worthless.

This is coming from someone who has BIG dreams and would have no problem unseating the current reigning leaders in my industry. But scale is not my initial goal–how big can this idea get? My goal is how can I make this idea the best it can be? FWIW it makes it hard to show Silicon Valley why investing in good ideas (mostly from underestimated, underrepresented founders) is a good investment, even if it only changes the lives of a handful of people.

"Scale" may not be evil, but the pursuit of it, imo, is ego-driven, patriarchal, capitalist, and antithetical to "building back better" for "people and planet". Harsh? Maybe. But consider the Industrial Revolution, scale, but at what cost if we are in a 4th mass extinction, GBV is on the rise, equality in the workplace and home is a distant dream for many, and worldwide economic gaps continue to grow. (Insert Debbie Downer GIF).

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Hey Emily, sorry for the super-late response. This comment was buried in my emails.

I definitely agree that companies can be too focused on scale to the point that greed sets in and begins to blind them. Part of the issue here of course is the nature of our financial markets - once a company is public, we expect them to produce profits quarter after quarter. Even if these tech companies were pure-hearted angelic institutions (which they aren't), once they got hooked on the advertising juice and the money train, wouldn't they be "forced" to pursue massive expansion? Our markets don't have a mechanism for quantifying or rewarding companies that forgo expansion and scale. And unfortunately for us, these financial incentives prove too strong.

Of course, I'm not trying to absolve the founders or the companies from responsibility. Especially in tech, where we have these founders who will essentially run these companies until they die, retire, or are arrested. They have more agency than CEOs in other industries. And yet, they too, fall into the trap. I think it's partly due to financial incentives and ego for sure. But also due to an "imperialist-like" desire to export one's ideas and values across the globe. Because if one really hopes to "connect the world", or "give everyone the chance to invest in the stock market", then their mission is unfulfilled even if they have 6 billion users. Which is mindboggling to think about.

I hear you about the issues in today's workplace (e.g. gender equality, inequality, economic gaps etc). We definitely have a lot to improve on. I recently read https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/07/opinion/google-job-harassment.html and felt it perfectly described the state of play - we've come to see tech companies just as companies. As imperfect and flawed institutions that offer us jobs but don't love us. I think part of the reason we're often hurt by tech companies is that we initially expected so much better from them, so when they fail, it feels like a disappointment. I think the next decade will be interesting as the employee-employer dynamic changes as people start to demand better while seeing through the corporate nonsense

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